Miles of Neon Light Ten-Story Broadway Sign (Nov, 1938)

Miles of Neon Light Ten-Story Broadway Sign

Up above Broadway rises a new electric sign. Every new sign, etching its advertising message in white letters and colored lights against the night sky, adds thousands of bulbs, miles of neon tubing to the already colossal total making Broadway the “great white way.” The latest is a skyscraper in itself, a steel structure 100 feet high and more than a block long, requiring a crew of twenty-five steel workers and electricians in assembling it. The mechanism that makes the pictures and letters flash and grow and blink is highly complicated. The builders work from diagrams showing banks of switches, rheostats, photoelectric cells and traveling ribbons that make and break contacts like the perforated paper ribbons on a player piano. In the twenty-seven blocks between Times Square and Columbus Circle in New York City, Broadway is lit by 111,000 incandescent lamps and twenty-two miles of neon tubing. When all the signs in the district are flashing and spinning at the same time they consume 3,250,000 watts an hour, sufficient electric energy to light a city the size of Denver.

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